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Lumbini Circuit

4 Nights / 5 Days Program

Day 01: Arrive Kathmandu. Visit Swayambhunath & Bouddhanath.
Upon arrival, meet & transfer to Hotel. After refreshment, drive to Swayambhunath.
Swayambhunath is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites for both Nepalese and Tibetans. It is one of the most ancient Chaityas in Asia and a major symbol of Nepal’s Buddhist heritage. Swayambhu represents the Primordial Buddha or Adi-Buddha. The hillock where Swayambhu Chaitya is built is called by the names of Padmagiri, Vajrakuta, Gosringa, Gopuchha, Samhegu, and Simbhu and is enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After this we continue to Boudhanath. Bouddhanath is one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage and old heritage sites in Nepal. It is said that this stupa contains the relics of Buddha Kashyapa. Almost 176 miniature stupas and paintings of Tibetan Buddhist pantheons cover the walls that surround the stupa at Bouddhanath. Newari style chaityas adorn the four gates of the stupa.

The Bouddhanath Stupa is believed to be the embodiment of Dharmakaya (Buddha mind) and hence an object of devotion for all Buddhists. The stupa built in traditional Nepalese architectural style consists of a raised plinth, a spherical dome, a cubical steeple and a spire of 13 discs. The plinth that consists of three terraces is believed to represent thirty-seven factors of enlightenment. The dome represents Tathagatagarbha (the Buddha nature) from which virtuous special qualities develop.

Bouddhanath Stupa is an important pilgrimage site for Tibetans. The stupa is mentioned in the Tibetan classical texts such as Biography of Yeshe Tshogyal (A.D. 8-9) and Padma Ka’thang (A.D.14). The Tibetan government had jurisdiction over the stupa from seventeenth century to the nineteenth century. Bouddhanath has numerous Tibetan monasteries.

Tibetan and Newar pilgrims at the stupa offer butter lamps and incense. Donating for the maintenance of the stupa is also regarded as a sacred act. Pilgrims circle and prostrate around the stupa, turn prayer wheels and recite mantras. They believe that rotating the prayer wheels and the reciting the six syllable mantra helps invoke compassion for all the living beings and eliminates the causes of suffering. They also seek blessings from the Rinpoches from the surrounding monasteries.

Day 02: Fly Kathmandu-Lumbini. Sightseeing tour.
After breakfast transfer to Domestic Airport for the flight to Bhairahawa (30 Minutes) to continue to Lumbini. Check in to Hotel and full day sightseeing tour of Lumbini.

Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha situated in western Tarai of Nepal holds a special place in the Buddhist world. It is also mentioned in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta that the Buddha advised his followers to visit Lumbini. Emperor Ashoka of erstwhile Magadha Kingdom of India made a pilgrimage in 3rd century BC and erected a world famous pillar with inscription stating ”Here the Buddha was born”. Chinese pilgrims Tsen Tsai (4th Century A.D.), Fa-hsien (5th Century A.D.) and Hiuen-Tsang(7th Century A.D.) accounted their travel to Lumbini mentioning that they saw the holy tree, the pond, stupas and shrines. Hiuen Tsang described the Ashokan Pillar with a horse capital on the top of it. Temple of Maya Devi, mother of Lord Buddha has been recently renovated under the vigilance of UNESCO. Several foreign monasteries and stupas have been constructed in Lumbini. Overnight at Hotel.

Day 03: Full day visit of Kapilvastu – Kudan-Gotihawa – Niglihawa – Sagarhawa-Devadaha- Tilaurakot-Ramgram
After breakfast proceed for full day visit of important Buddhist sites around Lumbini.

Kapilvastu: Located 27 km. west of Lumbini lies the ruins of historic town of ‘Kapilvastu’. Believed to be the capital of Shakya republic where the Lord lived and enjoyed his life until his thirteenth year, Kapilvastu has been identified with Tilaurakot. Also, the place is believed to have been associated with different important episodes: there are ruins and mounds of old stupas and monasteries made of kiln-burnt bricks and clay-mortar. The remains are surrounded by a moat and the wall of the city is made of bricks. It is said that Kapilvastu was named after Saint Kapila. Pali text Sumangala Vilasini, elaborates that the exiled sons of King Okkaka of Kosala established Kapilvastu. The Pancvargiya Bhiksus were from Kapilvastu and it is said that the historic Buddha visited Kapilvastu several times in his life. The first nunnery, in the Buddhist history was established in Kapilvastu.

Both Fa-Hien and Hiuen-Tsang visited Kapilvastu. The latter wrote that he saw Kapilvastu in complete ruins and counted 10 deserted cities within Kapilvastu. However, the decline of Buddhism in India after the thirteenth century caused the recollection of Kapilvastu to remain obscure.

Kudan: About four and a half kilometers south of Tilaurakot is situated the village of Kudan. In the vicinity of the village there are huge mounds of structural ruins and a tank nearby that appear to be the wreckage of stupas and monasteries. According to archeologist P.C.Mukherjee the remains are those of Nigrodharma, where King Suddhodhana met Lord Buddha. The remains may also be of the “Kasaya” stupa where a kasaya (yellow robe) was presented to Lord Buddha. However, this has not been confirmed. Some scholars believe that Kudan is Kshemavati, the birthplace of Krakuchanda Buddha.

The stupa is 25 feet high and festooned with prayer flags. There is a shrine which was once the residence of Akshyobhya Buddha. The tympanum at the shrine has unique four handed image of Shankar Narayan. There are several images of Sadakshari Lokesvara, Shahasrabhuja Lokesvara, Lakshmi, Uma and Buddha. There are also chaityas, mandala and mantra graffiti. The retreat monastery of Karma Kagyu is nearby.

Gotihawa: About 5 km. southwest of Taulihawa, there is a village called Gotihawa. In the village there is an Ashok Pillar standing in a slab. The upper portion of the pillar is broken and lost and only the lower portion of the pillar 3.5m. high is still intact. Adjoining the pillar towards its northeast there is a huge stupa with successive ring of wedge shaped Mauryan bricks.

Niglihawa: About 8 km, northwest of Taulihawa, there is another site of archaeological importance. The site has quadrangular tank surrounded by bushes, locally known as Niglisagar. On the western Bank of the tank there are two broken pieces of the Ashok pillar, the longer one laying flat and the shorter ones stack into the ground. The pillar bears 2 peacocks on the top part and a Devanagari script inscription reading Om Mani Padme Hun.

The shorter portion of the pillar which is partly buried in the ground measures 1.52m in length bears four lines of Ashok inscription in the Brahmi script which roughly translates as: "King Piyadasi Beloved of the gods, after 14 years of his coronation enlarged for the second time the stupa of Buddha kanaka Muni, and after 20 years of his coronation he came himself and worshipped (and ) he caused (this) stone pillar to be erected:"

Sagarhawa: About 12 km. north of Taulihawa, there is a forest area called Sagarhawa. In the midst of the forest there is a huge rectangular tank, which is popularly known as Lumbusagar, or a long tank. The ancient tanks ruins, which were excavated and identified by Dr. Aslois A Fuhrer as the ‘Palace of massacre of the Shakyas’ can still be located on the west south banks of the Sagar.

Devadaha: It is the parental home of Queen Maya Devi, mother of Lord Buddha which is situated 38 kilometres east of Lumbini near the village of Khairhani. Devadaha was the capital of the erstwhile capital Koliyas dynasty.

Some Buddhist literature mentions that there was a tradition among the Sakyas and Koliyas to give birth of the first child in the mother's parent's house. There was a close affinity between Koliyas and Shakyas which was established by intermarriage. Between these two towns flowed a small river Rohini. On the bank of the Rohini or Rohita were gardens. Perhaps to observe the tradition, Maya set off to her parent's house in Devadaha, but she gave birth to her child on her arrival at Lumbini. Devadaha means the tank of the gods and there

The Ramgram Kingdom: The Ramgram Kingdom was 60 kilometers to the east of the holy place of the Buddha's birth. The King of Ramgram Kingdom was one of the eight Kings who obtained Buddha's relics and he also built a pagoda, which is named Ramgram Pagoda. And the relics were in it for offering. A dragon King was in the pond near the pagoda and the dragon King often kept guard to the pagoda and paid worship to it all day and night.

After building the stupa containing the relics of the Buddha's body, this site became one of the centres of pilgrimage and devotion.
Emperor Ashoka wanted to open the eight Pagodas to make eighty-four thousand pagodas except the Ramgram. The dragon King appeared when Emperor Ashoka wanted to damage the Ramgram pagoda. Emperor Ashoka saw that the dragon King was paying worship and was offering to the pagoda. The dragon King said, "if you could do better offering than this, you could do damage this pagoda and nobody would stop you." Emperor Ashoka knew that no offering in the world would be like this and he could not do better than the Dragon King, so he went back to his country without damaging the pagoda.

Ramgram stupa is located almost at the middle of the island area. The relief of the stupa is not evenly raised now. The southern and eastern side of the stupa is raised evenly to the centre forming the top where as north and south have more falls. The contour of the west side falls is steeper than north side. They were sculpted out by the trees grown on those sides.

Day 04: Fly Bhairahawa – Kathmandu. Afternoon visit Patan.
Morning free for visit local monasteries before heading to airport for the flight back to Kathmandu. Upon arrival transfer to Hotel.

After refreshment, drive to Patan. Patan City is an enchanting mélange of palace buildings, artistic courtyard and former Royal palace complex. One remarkable monument here is a 16th century temple dedicated to the Hindu God Lord Krishna, built entirely of stone. Tibetan Refuge Camp is famous for its weaving carpet and other Tibetan art. The famous Kwa Baha also popularly called Golden Temple is situated in Patan. The vihara is known by several names such as Sri Bhaskaradeva Samskarita Hiranyavarna MahaVihara, Kwa Baha, Kwaba and Hiranyavarna MahaVihara. Kwa Baha is a Tibetan style monastery. The Mahabouddha Temple also known as Mahabodhi Mandap Vihara is one of the most well-known Buddhist sites of Patan. The temple architecture is said to be inspired by Bodh-Gaya temple structure in Bihar. The temple is a branch of Rudravarna MahaVihara (Ukubaha).

Day 05: Transfer to airport for departure.
After breakfast, transfer to airport for the flight back home.

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